Three Peaks P300
Peak 1,174ft P300

Fri, Jun 30, 2023
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After half a month of doing training hikes to the local peaks in the South Bay, I finally managed to get away for some new ones, even if only for half a day. These two peaks are located in Marin County at Soulajule Reservoir, on property (mostly) owned by the Marin Municipal Water District. My plan was to combine a couple of hikes that Andrew Kirmse and others have done since the first half of the two route are shared. A heat wave was on its way across much of the state and I knew I would have only the morning hours before it became quite warm. In order to avoid what can be awful traffic getting to Marin from San Jose, I chose to leave home at 8p and spend the night camped in near the start. This worked nicely, no real traffic on the freeways, just the usual heavy flow on 19th St through San Francisco. I bedded down on a lonely stretch of Hicks Valley Rd in the back of Jeep, and slept well in the 50F temps. In the morning I was up at 5:30a, dressed, and ate breakfast while I drove the remaining six miles or so to the reservoir. As Andew pointed out, there's an automatic gate that is (supposedly) open from sunrise to sunset. It wasn't yet 6a when I arrived, finding the gate closed although it was already 20min past sunrise. Turns out that is only approximate. A closer reading of the sign on the gate says it opens at 7a. Rats. There is a pedestrian bypass, so I decided to walk the extra mile each way to the parking lot to avoid waiting around another 45min. This proved a most prudent decision because on my return the gate was still closed.

I spent the first 45min plying the main road to the reservoir and around its western perimeter, past the (apparently) abandoned Three Peaks Earth Station, followed by the Three Peaks Ranch. I then turned off onto an unused ranch road that climbs to a collapsed cabin. An unsigned and unlocked gate marking the water district boundary is passed along the way. At the cabin, the old road ends and one follows a rougher track climbing more steeply along the ridge heading northwest. The ridge then turns SSW, now just a faint use trail through grass, brush and poison oak, but no real bushwhacking, and an easier gradient. A fenceline runs across the top of this ridge and one side or the other may be favored for easier travel. As expected, there are three summits to this one, the easternmost with a small utility shed, the second with the spot elevation, the western one clearly lower. I visited the first two at the hour and a quarter mark to call it good, took a few pics of the views, and headed back down the same way.

Peak 1,174ft lies a few miles to the east of Three Peaks, on the south side of the reservoir. Once I got back down to the main road, I paused to remove an annoying collection of stickers I'd picked up from all the grasses. I then continued south along the road, passing a motorist who didn't bother to respond to a friendly wave. A few minutes later I realized why this might be, as I reached the end of the public road where it descends to the reservoir's southwest corner - they may have been worried I was about to trespass on their property just as they were leaving, but there was no need to. There's an old turnoff that forks east and ends at the water's edge. With a big rain year, the reservoir was at a maximum, higher than shown on either the topo map or the satellite view. Andrew had crossed a small ravine here, but at the moment it was under water and looked to be at least waist deep - this would not do. After checking out various options, I dove into the thicket of trees along the water's edge, working my way slowly through a heavy tangle, believing I was surely an idiot. I managed a dicey log crossing and got to the east side of the creek feeding into the reservoir. On the other side, I found an abundance of poison oak, but not enough to deter me. Better, there was a use trail on this side that had its own share of bushwhacking, but it got me in short order to the earthen dam that holds back a small reservoir at the base of the peak. This is where I rejoined Andrew's track and found the use trail he described that climbs steeply up the slope. No more bushwhacking, thankfully, and the route becomes quite pleasant once the initial slope is surmounted. Several false summits eventually lead to the rounded highpoint. I sat down in the grass for a second take at removing stickers, then headed back down the way I'd come. Back through the thickets and across the dicey logs eventually got me to the main road where I took the third and last break to remove stickers. It would be almost 11:30a by the time I returned, just under 5hrs for the 10mi with 2,500ft of gain. I would have liked to add Peak 1,140ft on the NE side of the reservoir as well, but it was too warm by now and time to call it a day. I showered where I'd parked, then spent the next two hours driving back to San Jose, across the Richmond Bridge and down the east side of the bay.

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